Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has admitted that his spinners had been overshadowed by Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar on a helpful Galle deck. Yasir and Babar claimed 13 wickets between them, with Mohammad Hafeez' offspin adding a further two scalps. Sri Lanka's front-line spinners, meanwhile, returned 5 for 221 in the first innings, and each went at more than a run a ball during Pakistan's brief second-innings chase.
Galle has historically been a stronghold for Sri Lankan spin. Muttiah Muralitharan has a 111 wickets at the venue - the most for any bowler at a single ground - while Herath also has 61 wickets there. Pakistan had lost each of their three previous Galle Tests, with Herath playing a significant role in each of those defeats.
"I admit that our spinners were not as effective as their spinners on this track - where it was turning from day one," Mathews said. "We needed our spinners to fire and fire quickly, but they didn't.
"I would say Rangana was not as effective as Yasir Shah or Babar was for them. I wouldn't call it being rusty, but unfortunately he couldn't make an impact in this game. We're playing a Test match after a few months, and Herath is coming back after an injury. He's having a lot of niggles. He knows he hasn't done well in this game, but hopefully he can bounce back quickly."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had also spoken of being prepared for Herath on this tour, which so far seems to be the case. Herath took 1 for 129 in a match where two thirds of the wickets fell to spin. "They played Rangana well - very positively," Mathews said. "They know that if you give Rangana wickets it's not easy. He continues to take wickets."
While Mathews acknowledged that Sarfraz Ahmed's brisk 96 had played a role in turning the match, he was more regretful of the contributions from Pakistan's tail, in the first innings. Babar and Asad Shafiq put on 101 for the ninth wicket on the fourth afternoon - with Babar hitting 56 of those runs off 60 balls.
"I think Shafiq and Sarfraz's partnership was crucial, but still what made the difference was Babar and Shafiq's partnership. That made a massive difference to the game. They were in total control and we were put under lot of pressure. After having them 118 for 5, it was disappointing that they scored another 340 runs. We can't let a number 10 come and get a fifty on this track. "
Sri Lanka had been on the wrong end of a similar lower-order resurgence against New Zealand, in January. "It happened as well in New Zealand where we had the game in our hands and we dropped a catch and it slipped away. Here it was a chanceless innings by Asad, Sarfraz and Babar.
"No matter where we play it's tough to lose. If you take our recent history, we've only recently lost to South Africa in Galle, so we've historically played well here. On this occasion, we bowled and batted poorly - we accept that. Our fielding was good, but the other disciplines weren't there."